What I’ve Learned in a Public School – by Brittany Whitcher
I spent the first several years of my life as the typical Christian homeschooled kid. My parents were missionaries, and we traveled around the country almost constantly. My mom would teach us in a little room in the corner of our house, and the only kids I ever saw were the children at churches or the ones I passed in the grocery store.
The real, unsaved world was foreign to me, and an environment I never believed I would really be submerged in. When we moved to Texas and I was enrolled in a public school, I was in for a huge perspective change.
The Wrong View
As a child, I took to heart the admonishments of my Sunday School teachers: “Be careful who you are friends with!” and “Don’t let the world influence you while you spread the Gospel!” I interpreted this mostly as, “Stay away from the unsaved, unless you are immediately witnessing to them!”
Without knowing it, I had developed an erroneous but understandable fear of, and even a sort of disgust for those who were not saved.
I never saw myself as mean. I was kind to everyone, and those who were kind to me in return became my friends. But when I saw someone acting up, doing what I had always been taught was wrong, I watched from the sidelines in horror and steered clear of them.
There is nothing wrong with avoiding sin and trying to dodge destructive relationships. However, it does become wrong when we begin to despise and fear the people. Even up until recently, I found myself almost hating those who were rude, disrespectful, and obviously unsaved.
The Godly View
I didn’t realize how much I despised my fellow classmates and how wrong I was until I was reminded of a verse from Matthew. Jesus, in the midst of His ministry and being assaulted with hatred from the Pharisees and religious Jews, looks out upon the people, and has compassion on them.
‘But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”’ Matthew 9:36-38
Wow. Though Jesus had every reason in the world to despise the Jews for consistently disobeying God, and though he knew that they would all deny Him and cry out for His death, He looked at them and felt compassion for them. He saw the crowds, lost with no purpose in life, no true happiness, and no loving God to guide and care for them, and He pitied them.
Now, Jesus by no means loved their sin. He hates sin. The Bible says that those who sin are at enmity with God. The question is, does He want any man to be His enemy? Certainly not! Do not forget the widespread, moving verse:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him, should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
With these verses in mind, I now see my classmates in a very different light. That one boy, with a problem with authority and a foul mouth? How sad and pointless his life must be! That one person, so obviously addicted to drugs? What hopelessness and hunger for more must have led them to seek solace in such a substance! They may not see their own lives in so harsh a light, but it is true. Without God, we are every one deprived and helpless.
By what leaps and bounds would our ministry grow if we saw every sinner as God sees them!
The Reason Behind the Sin
Upon coming to the realization that my entire viewpoint on my fellow man was wrong, I began to wonder: why do we let ourselves be so blinded to the truth?
The only answer I could come up with was this:
We are proud of being Christian. We take pride in the fact that we know what is sin and that we avoid the atrocities of the world. We look at our Christian upbringing with pride, and admiringly examine our daily Bible and prayer time. The fact that they would choose to do what is so obviously wrong automatically makes us see them as beneath us.
To sum it up, we show off the gift that was given to us freely, which we really did not deserve. We take pride in the fact that we simply accepted salvation. We brag about God’s endless work in us, which we could never accomplish ourselves. We look back upon our upbringing which we had no way of controlling and shake our heads at those who were not so fortunate or blessed.
If God were to take away what He had freely bestowed upon us, and is abundantly willing to bestow upon anyone else, we would be just as bad as them, if not worse.
So, it is nothing other than pride that causes us to hate the unsaved and look down upon the lost.
So what do we do now?
We understand that our previous bitter views stem from irrational pride.
We see that the unsaved are no worse than us, and that if we are truly being Christlike, we will love them and have compassion on them.
What comes next?
Notice the last few sentences of the passage from Matthew. Jesus says that there are not enough laborers to take in the blooming harvest.
In other words, there are plenty of people out there who need to be saved, and who would be saved, but there are not enough Christians out there labouring in the field of souls, working to lead the hearts of men to the threshing floor of the cross.
So, what is our purpose when we are thrown out into the world? What should we be doing while we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses?
The answer is simple.
The people are our purpose. We should be always receptive to the Holy Spirit, constantly looking for opportunities to share the amazing love of God with the people we come in contact with. We were put on this earth to glorify God, and what better way to do so than by bringing more men and women to an awareness of His glory and wondrous gift?
Lord, open our eyes so that we see the people as You see them: lost, as sheep without a shepherd. Help us to recognize our purpose and pursue it. Give us a burden for the people, we pray, and enable us to spread the Gospel lovingly and unashamedly, labouring diligently to bring in the harvest of souls.
About the Author: Brittany Whitcher, the daughter of our former Hispanic Coordinator with Baptist Church Planters, is now a high school senior and looks forward to attending Bible college this coming year. We so appreciate her heartfelt and challenging thoughts.